What is Dressage?
Meaning “training” in French, dressage is a sport that requires horses and riders to be in perfect harmony. Requiring horses and riders to perform a “test” that consists of a series of movements judged on a scale of one to ten, dressage requires athleticism and precision. With 10 levels, the sport of dressage offers levels that can satisfy the goals of all types of riders, whether one is an amateur, professional, or just starting to out.
One of the most beneficial and unique aspects of dressage is that it can be considered the foundation for most equestrian disciplines. The movements that horses and riders perform require the horse to be balanced and attentive to even the subtlest aids. Due to this, dressage training can be beneficial for all types of horses and riders.
What Are The Levels?
The levels of dressage start with the most basic skills ending with highest levels demanding years of training and perfection from both horse and rider. Within each test, excluding the FEI (Federal Equestrian International) tests which consist of Prix St. George and up, each level has three tests that riders can choose to ride.
- Intro Level
- Training Level
- First Level
- Second Level
- Third Level
- Fourth Level
- Prix St. George
- Intermediare I
- Intermediare II
- Grand Prix
How Does the Scoring Work?
At first, dressage scoring can seem a bit complicated. In reality, once you’re accustomed to the system, dressage scoring is actually very simple. At USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) levels (Intro-Fourth), dressage tests have one judge. The judge will score the movements in the test on a scale of one to ten with ten being the best. Horses and riders are also scored on collective marks which include gaits, impulsion, submission, rider effectiveness, and rider position. The score for each movement is then added together to come up with a final number of points. Next, that number is then divided by the number of points possible and multiplied by ten create a final percentage score. The higher the percentage, the better. FEI tests are scored on the same system, but more than one judge may be present.
How Do I Start Riding Dressage?
If you’re interested in starting to ride dressage, your first step is take basic, beginner riding lessons. Beginner riding lessons will give you the foundation that you’ll need to begin your dressage career. Once you’ve completed beginner riding lessons, you’ll then be able to move onto the next level. Once you’ve completed intermediate riding lessons, you will be well on your way to participating in the wonderful sport of dressage.
What Do I Need To Wear?
One of the most fun things about horse riding is the clothes you get to wear!
Depending on if you are going to a regular riding lesson or are off to a show, there are certain differences in what you need to wear. Find out here.
What Kind of Horse Do I Need?
The world of dressage is often ruled by expensively bred Warmbloods. While Warmbloods are certainly beautiful and very athletic horses, it’s a misconception that you have to buy a Warmblood if you want to do dressage. While there are exceptions, Warmbloods are certainly most competitive at the FEI levels, but if you’re interested in starting dressage, a horse that is reliable with decent movement can be perfectly suitable for lower-level dressage.